Friday, October 31, 2014

Trick or Treat?

It's one of my favorite holidays today, and I love dressing up, pouring a glass of wine, and watching "Nightmare Before Christmas" as I wait for the handful die-hard parents with their young trick-or-treaters. I'm glad that there are a few who still hold on to the tradition of going door to door to visit their neighbors. I love hearing the children's excited comments and laughter as they head down the street in the hopes of more treats than tricks.

 Do you dress up for Halloween as well? Or do you leave it to the younger generation? I fear that
sometimes we get all caught up in the "busyness" of the season we forget to embrace the magic, and instead start worrying about all of the things we have "to do". I know I'm guilty of it, and until recently had a habit of being over connected with technology to the point where my husband started referring to my iPhone as "my boyfriend". (She's a girl, but I got the point.)

Sometimes we become so connected with the aps and programs that are supposed to save us time, we forget why the tools were created in the first place. (To take care of things so we can spend the time in the "real world".) I see so many parents on their phones while their children are going door to door, or at the park, or as a radio persona said on Wednesday. "I'm bummed my son has a swim meet today, as I want to watch the Giant's. But thanks to my internet provider's App on my phone, I can watch the game and still cheer on little Johnny." 

That's when I realized that in the essence of multitasking and saving time, we've shifted our priorities from people to our phones. Why not take Johnny out of the meet and watch the game together? Otherwise, be present for Johnny's event, so that when he looks up he'll see you cheering him on, versus the top of your head because you're looking at your phone.

My wish for you as we enter the holiday season is that you live in the moment, and experience the magic. Put down your phone and truly experience your children's reactions of the witch that opens the door, or discovering the house with the full sized candy bars. And so that when they look to you they see you're looking right back at them. Leave your phone in your purse while you're at the park or visiting Santa.

I've started distancing myself from my phone, and I'm finding it's liberating!  I didn't realize how dis-connected I was.  I also found it's really easy to get sucked back in to your old patterns too!  So if you decide to do the same, let me know, as I'd love to hear how it goes.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ten Things You May Not Realize About Professional Photography

I've fallen behind in my posting lately, but my focus has been elsewhere. :-)  In front of the camera to be more exact.  I recently celebrated my second anniversary in business, and  over the past year, I have learned that there are quite a few misconceptions about photography and photographers, and I thought I'd list my current Top 10.

  1. It's not all about the gear.  Don't get me wrong, professional gear is designed to capture the best images possible, and does help with creating a quality product and print.  But if you don't know how to use it, and how to pose the people in front of it, or you leave your camera on Auto all of the time, all of the latest gear in the world isn't going to help you capture great images.  At the end of the day it's the person behind the camera that makes the difference.
  2. Some studio photographers are just paid to push a button!  Did you know that quite a few of the Mall and Chain Studio photographers aren't allowed to change the settings on the camera?  True Story! The settings, distance, lighting, and poses are all pre-set beforehand.  I learned this recently, and was quite surprised.  Most of these studios don't require any special training to use the equipment, instead all of their training is focused getting people in and out quickly, and selling as many packages as possible. 
  3. Consumer Print Labs aren't always consistent or archival.  If you want your photos to look their best and last a lifetime, ask your photographer to print the photos with their professional print lab.  Be sure to do your research, as you could still find your photographer picking up your prints at your local discount warehouse store. And their "too good to be true" print price, probably was just that.
  4. Hobby Photographers are a bargain for a reason.  Taxes, business licences, and overhead usually mean your photographer is in this for the long haul.  Yes, their prices reflect this, but they're also usually there for you a year down the line when you want to capture more photos, or want something reprinted for Great Gram.  If the hobbyist is still around, their prices have likely raised to reflect their actual cost of doing business.
  5. Digital is cheap.  Not necessarily, I just spent another $400 on back-up equipment to store my client's files, and I have a redundant system in case something happens to one of the hard drives.  The editing software used to "Develop" the RAW files is also a cost many don't consider.   While it seems in theory that all one need to do is "snap a picture and burn it to CD". Editing, storing, and printing these images is actually rather time consuming and can get expensive quick.  Not to mention most professional lenses are about $1,000 or more each! There's actually a lot more that goes on behind the scenes to create your images than you may realize.
  6. The photos on their Website aren't always theirs.  This is a new one but has happened more often than I realized.  New photographers "save" images from the websites of photographers they like, and then put them on their website as "representations" of what they can do!  The other time this happens is a little less sneaky. Many larger photo studios have multiple photographers working for them, so if you see an image or style you like, ask which photographer in the studio took it, so you're sure to get the person who captured the look you're going for.
  7. A good photographer is always learning.  Fashion, styles, technology and products are changing constantly, and a good photographer evolves with the market.  From classes, to magazines and books, your photographer is likely spending a good deal of their time (and budget) behind the scenes preparing for your session.  In today's market, albums aren't just for weddings, and prints are making a huge comeback, as customers are tired of loosing their images on the "cloud" and want something tangible. Another interesting "development" is that 5x7's and 8x10 sized images are falling away to custom sized prints and products! 
  8. Your files aren't always safe on the cloud. (or your hard-drive, or USB, or SD Card)  It's easy to loose data, or have the technology expire. Will your children have access to the passwords and information you've lovingly stored on the cloud or on your phone?  Or will those images be lost in a hard-drive crash, data breach, or technology update?  Printed images are often the only things that get passed down to future generations.
  9. Cookies aren't currency.  While some photographers may work in exchange for cookies, or trade for services, they can't do it all of the time! (and stay in business)  Trading and bartering is great, but it must be something of value to both parties.   
  10. We might not be the best person for the job. Our goal is to make you look and feel beautiful, but we need your help.  If you have a style you like, or a certain look you are going for let us know.  A good photographer will tell you if this is something they can do, and if not they can often refer you to someone that can. Some photographers specialize in one area, or they may have a personality trait that clashes with your family.  Finding a photographer that you feel comfortable with is just as important as the images you wish to capture.  
And there you have it, my current top Ten, I hope this helped you start thinking about questions to ask your photographer before booking a session.  As well as start thinking about getting some of your favorite pictures off the "cloud" and in print form!  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Planning a Session with My Girls

As many of you know I have two Senior (30-year-old) horses. A palomino Quarter Horse I've had since she was a day old and a little white Arab that I bought a few years before my Hubs and I were married.  (approx 17 years or so ago)
My girl, on Instagram.
Since horses usually live to be 25-30 I know that my time with them is growing shorter, I just don't like acknowledging it.  I mentioned before I needed to take some images with them but it has been way too easy to make excuses on not scheduling something... primarily that I should get in better shape, followed by I should use the $ for something else, to my girls need to shed out, to I know could take them myself with a self timer, etc...
There's a reason you usually only see feet shots of me, and it's called  my hips do lie.
Last week I really thought I was going to have to put my little Arab down, and it made me realize I needed to stop making excuses and just do it!  So I took advantage of the little bit of extra time I've been given, and on Mother's Day I met with another photographer, to have some images taken of me with my girls.

Despite many a lost toenail and bruised toe, t
he Iowa farm-girl in me still wears flip-flops on occasion to see the girls.
(Seriously not wise if you like your feet.)
Digging their tack out of storage, just in case I wanted to use it in a few shots, I spent Saturday giving it a good cleaning and conditioning.  My office now smells of Lexol and leather, and just makes me happy when I enter it, as it reminds me of show season and spring.
My favorite halter purchased when my palomino was just two years old.  (It still fits!)
Then there was the matter of picking out outfits for me, and finding the right accessories.  I pinned some inspiration on Pinterest, and then put together my story boards so I had a basic idea of what I'd like to accomplish.   Packing all of my outfits, and labeling my jewels so I'd be ready to go on the day, since I knew that it'd be a busy one!
Rough sketches of poses and outfit choices...
Sunday Morning (Mother's Day) I headed to Safeway in the hopes of picking up Daisies and Alstroemeria Lilies for their mane and tails.  Unfortunately I discovered most men were busy shopping for flowers on Mother's Day and it was a madhouse!  There were no daisies or lilies, only roses, orchids, and mums, and a bunch of confused looking "Dads"!  It ended up being a good thing as I resorted to using flowers from our yard, Pittosporum, Jasmine, Chamomile, Yarrow, dried Red Roses, Mexican Sage, Hearts & Flowers Ice Plants, and a few others.

Flower cuttings from our yard.
My white mare received the pink, purple, red and white flowers above as they just fit her princess personality so much.  My palomino received arrangements made of the pretty golden flowers below, as they reminded me of the goldenrod and daisies in the Iowa fields where she grew up..
Trailing Jasmine, Yarrow, Chamomile, and Heats & Flowers for their "hair".
With the exception of my WPPI adventure mentioned in my newsletter, the last time I was front of another photographer's camera was years ago!  I had forgotten how nerve-wrecking it is.  The getting ready, the hopes that the images will turn out,  the wishes for a good hair day, etc. It's especially nerve wrecking when you add two horses who weren't that interested in putting their ears forward, or posing for that matter.  It's pretty much the equivalent of trying to pose two 1000+ pound 2-year-olds!
Love the hoof outlines from the pretty polish we used.
The flowers looked so pretty in their tails, it is usually a pretty bright white when washed, but the Cali drought put a damper on that this year. :-S The spots of longer hair on her golden coat is from the Cushings Disease, I thought about cutting it all off, but it documents this stage of her life, and so I left it as is.

After 30 years, my Mares are used to almost anything!
These iPhone images of what went on before the session, as I made it a point to not take any during the it. So I didn't' get many of my little white Arab as once the photographer arrived, I was too busy reapplying my lipstick, doing yoga poses while attempting to change in a dusty barn, struggling to keep the wind from destroying my super fine hair, and striving to pose properly next to my girls, who were much more interested in pretty much anything but the camera. 
My little Arab, wondering out my Palomino and husband are up to.
I am glad I used flowers from our yard instead of purchased ones, as it will make the images even more special.  These needed to be arranged a bit more, but she was so interested in what was happening, I had to take a quick picture. It's so rare to have my Tim at the ranch, who was there to help hold the "toddlers", run for carrots and cookies, and try to remind me to bring my chin forward.  He refers to himself as the "Minion" on photo shoot days.
My girl and my hubs.
My little girl is wondering what's so interesting about her tail!  She's so sweet, and just a few weeks from her 30th birthday.  It's hard to believe so much time has gone by, as it seems like just yesterday I was able to throw on a saddle and head off into the hills, or over a few jumps. They have it pretty good, lounging in the pasture, and enjoying treats and an occasional flower in their hair, although I do wonder sometimes if they miss our adventures through the hills as much as I do.

As I wait for the photographer to process the images, I am again in my client's shoes, hoping that my "toddlers" behaved just long enough to obtain some images that I can cherish for generations.  (and that she managed to capture my good side as well) :-)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Got Roses?

Growing up in an Iowa farming family, always meant a trip to the garden, and it seemed even if you didn't live on a farm, almost everyone I knew had a rosebush or two somewhere in their yard.  When I went to High School we had work/study programs through the Ag class.  I chose to work at a local florist/greenhouse and had such fun and learned so much about the care of different flowers and plants, and thanks to an amazingly busy Valentine's Day, the secrets to arranging roses.  (For Mother's Day the favorite was vintage tea cup arrangements.)
Arrangements from our Garden
So when my friend Gina asked me to talk about my garden for some upcoming blog posts, I felt one on cutting and arranging roses would be appropriate.  Head on over to Gina's blog, Kleinworth and Co. to check out the entire article, and say hello.  Gina is always posting wonderful crafts and recipes, and takes some amazing sunset and scenery images too!
My newborn basket has been re-purposed for roses.

P.S. There's still time to enter my Mother's Day giveaway!!! And I'm almost at 200 likes on FB... so if you haven't shared the love, please do! :-)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Just in Time for Mother's Day

If you're a mom, or have a special one you'd like to honor, 
there are only two more weeks until Mother's Day!
If your plans are letting the kids take over the kitchen to create breakfast in bed,
why not add a little something extra just in case the toast gets burnt?
There's nothing wrong with hedging your bets. 
So now through Saturday, May 10th,
enter to win a special Mother's Day gift package,
and give her a gift that will last a lifetime.

This gift prize, includes your choice of a family or contemporary couture Gift Voucher valued at $350
(Which covers not only your session fee but includes a $100 credit that can be used towards your print purchase.)
For clients that have had a session within the last 6 months, and would rather win a prize, they may substitute the Gift Voucher for a 12" x 18" wrapped canvas print using one of their session images!
It's just my little gift for all of the Mom's out there.
Of course if you'd like avoid the crowds and stay close to home you can always Purchase a Certificate 
or Book a Session to capture your family in 2014, so she has something to hang on her walls long after the burnt toast smell has gone.

Your gift certificate package comes in one of these pretty
Suzi Worley Photography Tote Bags. The 13" x 5" x 13" Chocolate Tote is perfect for carrying your images, a mini market run, or a petite picnic with a French baguette and bottle of her favorite wine.
Be sure to enter below and let us know which gift voucher you would like to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This give-away is not just limited to Moms and it doesn't have to be used for Mother's Day
But if you do have a special Mom in mind, and you win,
you don't have to tell her it was free, your secret's safe with me.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

All Sessions Should Begin with a Spa Day!

Easter is right around the corner, which means summer isn't far behind. As I get ready for the “busy season” of photography, I thought I’d share with you some of the most common questions regarding “Getting ready for a session”, and help you start preparing now.

What to wear is a huge one, but it’s one of the most easy to address. We discuss wardrobe during the pre-consultation, I often get texts or videos of outfits prior to the session, and some clients and I even share a Pinterest board. It’s a great way to start planning your day, and the right outfit can help accentuate your best features!

Many of my clients state they wish to loose a few pounds, quite often this can be addressed with proper posing and clothing choices, so I won't get into that here.

Instead I’m going to address pampering yourself, because worries about wrinkles, age spots, and frizzy hair are often the largest area of concern.  What worked a few years ago, suddenly isn't working, and many of my clients mention they could use a bit of a pick-me up but they just don't know where to begin.  If you feel you could be in this category as well, read on:
  1. Give your hair some TLC—this can be a huge one. If you have frizzy flyaway hair from the dryer than normal winter, start using a hair mask Your hairstylist should be able to tell you what product your hair needs most. Start early, so you can find the one that works best with your hair before the summer wind, and chlorine starts taking their toll. If you haven't changed your hair since the 90's (or earlier) it's likely time to look into some new styles!
    • Session Tips
      • If you’re planning on getting extensions, color, or a new cut; be sure to do so two weeks before your session so that you have time to get used to it. 
      • Guys or women with shorter hairstyles should get their hair cut one week before so if there’s any tan lines, they have a chance to blend in. 
  2. Pamper Your Skin!  If you have no idea where to start, visit with a licensed esthetician to discuss your skin care regimen and to address any problem areas you may have.  If you're on a budget, there are some great over the counter treatments you can get that will help make your skin look youthful. 
    • Exfoliate - Treat yourself to an at home spa day and exfoliate your entire body at least once a week. Look for products with a grain to them. (sea salt, sugar, ground nuts, small seeds, etc.) 
    • Worried about wrinkles? Look for a product with Retinol in it, or try Acupuncture to help reduce the worry lines. Better yet, schedule a massage and disconnect from technology for an hour our so, it does wonders for your worry lines!
    • Moisturize Morning, Noon, & Night. 
      • Morning -- Have you discovered BB Cream?  These amazing creams are tinted moisturizers that even out your skin tones are packed with anti-oxidants and usually contain sunblock. Use it on your neck and face as well. I put it on in the morning, and either use it as a base prior to my foundation, or just as a protective coverage if I’m going to be working in the yard, because sometimes quick and easy is a good thing.
      • Noon -- During the day, remember to re-apply your sunscreen, and be sure to put on lotion or oil after your shower, bathe, or swim to lock in the extra moisture.  
      • Night --  Is the perfect time to use a moisturizer with something containing Retinol A, and Vitamin C, it works while you sleep and helps repair the damage caused by your activities during the day.
    • Cleanse -- Take your make-up off at night. If you’re too exhausted for a full blown regimen, invest in some make-up removal wipes.  
      • Get in the habit of cleaning your make-up brushes too.  Even if you only use them for one blusher, etc, they still absorb dirt and oils, and could be the reason for break-outs.
    • Facial Treatment -- There are some great facial products you can make at home using things you likely already have in the refrigerator and kitchen cupboard.
      • Session Tips
        • If you're planning on having  a professional facial done prior to your session, be sure to schedule it the day before your session.
        • If you are planing on having any lash extensions, hair removal, or brow shaping done, schedule this one week before your session.
        • Please don't use self tanning creams prior to your session.  If you spray tan, do so a week before.
  3. Nails -- Pamper your nails and feet too.  This should be considered a habit not a luxury,as your feet and hands work hard to get you where you need to go, and deserve a little "me time". 
    • Session Tip
      • Make sure to schedule a pedicure/and manicure the day before your session to make sure your nails look their best. And unless it's a fashion themed shoot, stick with something that's timeless for your nails, so the focus will be on you. 
  4. Hydrate. Remember to drink water, or other replenishing juices.  (Wine is not considered a replenishing juice.)  If you hate water, add some fresh fruit, veggies, or herbs to flavor it, vs processed sugars.  (Cucumber/Mint, Lavender/Lemon, Orange/Rosemary are all great combinations.)
There are quite a few over the counter products that do a great job of helping you look your best, or you can even make your own.  I'm always adding to my Pinterest DIY Board if you'd like some ideas.  By putting a little extra time into your routine, you'll be ready for whatever comes your way this summer!  (Including the camera!)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Saint Patrick's Day ~ Photo Scavenger Hunt

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know Tim and I honored one of my favorite photography satirists, and went on a photo walk.  It was such fun that I thought I'd come up with a walk for Saint Patrick’s Day!

If you are on Instagram follow me @former_farmgirl and, tag  #SWPScavengerHunt.  Make sure your post is public so we can see it!  (If it's a selfie, be sure to add the tag  #SWPSelfieChallenge too!)

Share your favorite image on our Facebook page on Saint Patrick's Day, and I may feature a lucky image (or two) on my Suzi Worley Photography Facebook page!   (Be sure to follow the pages to see if you are featured!)

A little fellow in green told me there might be a wee bit of gold* available for whoever's selected.  If you end up with ALL TWENTY items be sure to let us know how you did it!

The Rules:
You can take the images anytime between now and Monday, March 17th, 2014, just be sure to share your favorite image(s) with us by Saint Patrick's Day and tag  #SWPScavengerHunt!  If you want to share your image(s) on a blog, be sure to add your link to the post using the tool below.

I'm not even sure if I can get all of the items listed, but will give it a try.  :-)  I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with and hope you have a lot of fun hunting!

The Hunt!
1. Man with a Beard. (Extra points for a red one.)
2. A green hat (or tweed cap)
3. A green beverage.
4. Gold coins
5. A shamrock (or lucky clover).
6. Rainbow
7. Leprechaun
8. Shillelagh (Walking Stick)
9. Irish Flag (Green, White, Orange)
10. Irish Coffee
11. Celtic Knot (Claddagh)
12. Corned Beef
13. Irish Pub
14. Pint of Guinness
15. Lucky Horseshoe
16. Pipe
17. Map of Ireland
18. Irish Wolfhound
19. Soda Bread
20. Cabbage
*Gold may come in the form of a Suzi Worley Photography gift certificate or Starbucks card.  The prizes are not associated with Starbucks or Facebook, but are just a little something I've added to make it fun.
May the Luck of the Irish be with you!

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

CONGRATS to the winner Heidi J, and daughter K1,
who found a four leaf clover and posted it to their FB page!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SWP Spotlight ~ MUA of the Month ~ Lisa's Hair and Make-up

I hope you are enjoying this series.  I've lined up some amazing talent, and this month I'm featuring California native, Lisa from Lisa's Hair and Make-up.  She did all of the make-up and hair for this mother/daughter session and we had such fun!  Lisa even met us on-site for the session, and set up her station by the pool, which made things a breeze.  
Mother / Daughter session, with make-up and hair done by Lisa K. Saminathen.
  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  My name is Lisa K. Saminathen. I was born and raised in San Jose, CA and attended Ganaye Academy where I focused on hair-styling. I received my license from the State Board of Barbering & Cosmetology in 2001. Over the past 13 years, I have specialized in weddings / engagements, fashion shows, pageants, photo shoots, and special events. I am married to a wonderful loving husband of over 7 years and we welcomed our son, Evan into this world in Aug 2012. Being a first time mom is definitely an exciting experience. Though the sleepless nights and 10-12 diaper changes throughout the day aren't fun, looking at his face makes everything worthwhile. He is our little bundle of joy!
  2. An artist at work, Lisa's attention to detail shows, and she had the process down to a science..
  3.  Why did you become a MUA? After receiving my cosmetology license. I did not see myself working in a salon. I always wanted to make my own time, so I became a freelancer. I started out hair-styling first but as the years went by, makeup grew on me. I started getting into makeup and applying it on my friends and family when they would go to weddings or my cousins for their senior proms. I was able to master and learned my own techniques and what type of products work and don't work for my clients. I started taking before and after photos of my clients and with their permission, I added them on Yelp. That's when my business escalated.
  4.  How long have you been in business? 13 years
  5. What’s your favorite make-up style? I love fashion runway makeup. It brings the creative side out of me.
  6. Everyone should be this pampered at least once!.
  7.   What’s your specialty? I mainly specialize in hair-styling and makeup. (Bridals, Editorial shoots, glamorous, etc..) 
  8. Where do you find inspiration? By networking with other artists and seeing their talents, inspires me to improve on my skill as a professional artist as well.
  9. What’s something people might not know about you?  I'm not exactly sure, I am a people person and for the first-timers meeting me, I get comments that I'm super friendly and very open. My question would probably be "What do people know about you?" I think they probably know everything. he he... 
  10. What’s your favorite thing to do when not working?  Spending time with my family. I work 7 days a week and having some free time is very important to spend it with my loved ones. 
  11. The reveal.
  12.  Do you have any make-up tips you’d like to share? Yes! The #1 question ladies always ask me is "How to conceal dark circles?" I would recommend using a color corrector. Mix green, purple and orange to help cancel out the bruising purple effect under your eyes.
  13. What’s the #1 thing women should be doing to help them look youthful (or age gracefully) that they aren't? Everyone needs a great moisturizer (BB Creams with SPF) It will protect your skin from sun damage and keeping it from drying out and I highly recommend a good scrub (Clinique or St.Ives Apricot) for your skin as well, it will help exfoliate those dead skin cells that often needs a little extra help removing. It will bring out that new, radiant skin hiding underneath there. :)
  14. How can people reach you?  You can check out my  Website | Facebook | Yelp or Phone# 408.824.0917  By appointment only.
As you can see a session with Lisa is such fun! (Plus she likes "Hello Kitty!" and that scores big points with me!) If you want to see more, head on over to my Vimeo site for a "Behind the Scenes" video.  I loved working with her in the past and look forward to more sessions with her in 2014.  
All smiles!  Thanks Lisa for the fabulously fun day!
Do note that Lisa's calendar fills up fast, and she's already booked for a lot of the wedding season already, so if you want to have a session with her this year, let me know ASAP so we save the date!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What Being a Professional Portrait Photographer Means to Me

When I was young, I used to read all of the time. It wasn't uncommon for my parents to tell me to “turn off the light” because they could see it seeping out from under my bedroom door.   If the book was really good, I would grab the heavy silver flashlight that I made sure to have next to me, and read the story under the covers until I finished the book, the battery went dead, or I was busted when my parents came in to check if I had gone to sleep.  ~ This is likely why I had a hard time waking up in the morning to get ready for school, but that’s another story all together.   Come to think of it, this is probably why we usually had to use candles when the power went out too. :-)
These books were published long before I was born.

Even as an adult when I read a book, I finish it within a day or so.  (Unfortunately I can’t pull the flashlight trick on my husband since he shares the bed with me, so I now only read on weekends when he doesn't have to get up early and go to work.) When I travel I've been known to have to pick up a book on the second leg because I already read the first one.   (Now that there's digital I just download another on my phone.)  But I still have a soft spot for printed books, especially old ones. 

Having read so many books over the years, some of them are bound fade away to the recesses of my memory, while pieces others stay with me.  One such book was picked up at a garage sale when I was in Junior High. It was a 25¢ paperback, and the heroine was a photographer that captured weddings.  What I recall vividly was that she used a ladder to climb up and take images of the food!  Now food images and “behind the scenes” images are quite common today, but at the time I loved her attention to detail and the fact she didn't just stand behind a tripod and capture stiff, posed pictures.  (This was pre-digital, so the fact she spent time on the food pictures was also noteworthy since every image counted.)  This was just a brief blip of character development, but I can remember the scene described so well.   This was the first time I remember thinking I would love to become a photographer, and take lifestyle pictures. (Although I don’t think the term "lifestyle photography" existed at the time.)  It was the reason I took “Science 2” in High School and learned dark room techniques.  (Since I was the only girl in the class, it meant I was occasionally on the sidelines as the High School football photographer as well!) 

Cropped image showing my magazine stack when I was about 18.
It has taken me a long time to get where I am today, and I am far from done learning.  But in hindsight, photography has always been a part of my life.  In fact I recently found a picture of my first apartment in California, and there on my coffee table was an assortment of photography magazines. I had forgotten I even subscribed to them! ~ I was a nanny at the time, and yet found it important to spend money on multiple subscriptions to photography magazines.  I find this rather telling.

Things have changed so much since I first read that paperback book.  Almost everyone today has a camera right in their phone, and point and shoot cameras have gotten quite advanced as well.  With digital you aren't limited to a roll of 36 exposures.  Instead you can take thousands of pictures and “pick the best one”.  (Something people in the photo industry call “Spray and Pray”.)  Another common practice in digital photography is “Shoot and Burn", the photographer is hired to take as many pictures as possible and then burn them to a CD or memory card for the client.  Most of the time these are unedited files, or if processed, they’re not edited a great deal, nor are they optimized for the different print mediums, crop sizes, or web use, which is okay, because most of the time, these images never see the light of day, other than a couple of random social media posts.  Instead they are often left in a drawer “to do later”. 

iPhone image of my current magazine stack.
The thing that strikes me is that even though I grew up studying photography, read all of the magazines I could about the subject, and was rarely found without a camera in hand, I still hired a professional photographer to capture the special moments in my life.  (Reunions, milestone birthday parties, weddings, etc.) It wasn't because I didn't know how to take pictures, or couldn't, it was because I wanted them to take care of things for me.  (Kind of like my reasoning when I spend $5 on an espresso drink when I have all of the ingredients and an espresso machine at home.)

A pro will know where to stand to capture the perfect moment.  They can find (or create) the perfect light that will compliment their subject and set the mood.  They are able to coax their subject into flattering poses and smiles, as well as creatively capture the candid moments.  They have the knowledge to set up and re-create images without having to “spray and pray” and then sort through thousands of images to “get one that looks good” or just give the client the images to sort themselves. A pro will take these planned images and not only back them up, but edit them so you look your best (because, pimples and such can happen at the worst of times). They will have a color calibrated monitor, and the ability to print the images on professional grade materials, using a professional print lab.  On the down-side, a pro will also have to know how to run a business.  Which means pay taxes, obtain a business licence, etc.  This is the "dark side" of being a pro, but is equally important, and quite often overlooked.

My goal as a photographer is for my client to commission printed images. I have access to high quality print labs, and archival materials that aren't always available to my clients so why not take advantage of the service?  It does mean extra work to research the labs, and then optimize the digital files for the print medium selected.  It takes a lot less time to just shoot the images and burn a CD. With today's technology we can capture some pretty impressive digital images with our phones that work just fine for the web, and so we're overwhelmed with images online. that they're often posted and forgotten.  Instead, I want my client to love their images so much, they can't imagine not printing them! (As a thank you for their order, I often add a digital app of pictures for their phone/tablet so they get the best of both worlds.)

The only time I want a CD of images is when I specifically commission a session for online use or head shots.  Otherwise, I want my photographer to take advantage of their connections to quality labs, archival materials, and custom services, and I want them to take care of the hard stuff.  (The posing, edits, print lab coordination, matting, etc.).  I hire a pro for their knowledge, experience, and services, so I can "focus" on other things.

Everyone has their own idea of what a professional is, and as I get ready to attend a huge photography trade-show and workshop next month, I am aware of these differences even more.   I am really looking forward to not only attending, but to speaking with other members of my field; from shoot-and-burn photographers, to head-shot photographers, to ones who offer prints and custom services.  I'm looking forward to taking classes to learn new techniques, and to walking the trade-show floor to see what other print options and services might interest my clients.  I continue to learn and challenge myself, because I want to be able to take care of my clients, so that they don’t have to do the work themselves. It's what I expect when I purchase my $5 espresso drink, too.  I want someone who is not only knowledgeable about the service they provide, but someone who makes life easier in the process.   

Monday, January 27, 2014

SWP Spotlight ~ MUA of the Month ~ Ruby Red Make-up

New Year, new features!  Since I've started offering make-up and hair services to my Suzi Worley Photography (SWP) clients, I thought I'd feature one a month so you could get to know them a bit better!  Since January is almost over, that means  I needed to get on the ball!   So without further adieu, I introduce you to my first featured Make-up Artist (MUA), Ruby of Ruby Red Make-up.  
Ruby and her dog Fify.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Hello! My name is Ruby Lopez Batres, I am Mexican and live with a dog named Fify. When I'm not doing makeup, I love to decorate my room. I spend most of my time online as well as finding other creative outlets. Someday I would love to learn how to decorate cakes, design flower arrangements and a bit of photography. My favorite food is Pizza, I can seriously have it for breakfast.
  2. Ruby Red MUA
  3. Why did you become a MUA? The reason that I became a Makeup Artist is because, I honestly got bored with doing my own makeup. After awhile, you start to figure out what compliments your skin-tone and what doesn't. I still enjoyed doing makeup so I just simply found more canvases and after that I was hooked with doing makeup on others. 
  4. How long have you been in busin
    ess? I have been in business for almost three years! Surprising, I know. Ruby Red is still quite new but I feel very confident in our team and I know that we'll do great this wedding season. 
  5. What’s your favorite make-up style? My absolutely favorite makeup style is the simple winged liner with light eye-shadow, contoured cheekbones with a beautiful highlight. A bit of peachy blush with the choice of a beautiful nude lip or a bright lip-color. I love this both on myself and on my clients. 
  6. What’s your specialty?  I specialize in On-location Makeup and Hair for Weddings and QuinceaƱeras. I also teach makeup classes to anyone who is interested in improving their makeup skills
  7. SWP Mother / Daughter Session

  8. Where do you find inspiration? Most of my inspiration comes from the work of other artists, Pinterest, Google and random items. I take the quote: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and use it to see beauty in small things. I feel that once someone is inspired, it's hard to become uninspired. Open your mind and see the beauty in colors, nature and people you'll be surprised.
  9. What’s something people might not know about you? I started doing makeup when I was 15, I joined a makeup team and I've been doing it ever since. I am also quite shy and a bit self-conscious, but all of that is gone when I get into my "zone". I am actually pretty talkative! 
  10. What’s your favorite thing to do when not working? I really like to spend time with my family, we're all really close and we get together every so often. I'm an indoors type of girl, I love to read books on my iPad, wrapped up in a blanket with all of my candles lit. I also enjoy watching a good movie or my favorite shows, the only problem is I'm an avid talker and the only one that can deal with it is my boyfriend. Thank you hun. 
  11. SWP Mother/Daughter Session

  12. Do you have any make-up tips you’d like to share? Of course I do! Ladies! Tip #1 Stop pumping your mascara, by pumping your mascara your inserting air into it which causes it to dry out faster and grow bacteria. Tip 2# Do you ladies ever put on mascara on your lashes and
    when you look down to do your lower lashes, you find that the mascara got on your skin or eyeshadow? A quick fix actually doing your lower lashes first then your top lashes or rubbing off the excess mascara with a Q-Tip. 

  13. What’s the #1 thing women should be doing to help them look youthful (or age gracefully) that they aren't? I absolutely insist that everyone starts to wear sunscreen! So many people overlook it, I used to until I figured out what UVA abd UVB meant. UVA stands for Ultra-Violet Aging Rays which cause you to age. UVB stands for Ultra-Violet Burning Rays which gives you a sunburn. Both rays penetrate your windshield, so imagine myself driving and aging while doing it. Get a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 but no more than 50. 
  14. How can people get a hold of you? It's sure been nice talking to you all, if anyone needs to get a hold of me you can find me through: My Website   |  Email | Facebook  or you can call me: 408.641.8661
Thanks so much Ruby for taking the time to speak with us at Suzi Worley Photography.  It's always a pleasure working with you and I'm looking forward to more fun sessions in 2014!  

Clients, if you want to book Ruby during your session with SWP be sure to let me know!  Ruby is currently available on weekends and her calender tends to fill up quickly!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Shooting with Film

My Dad still shoots with Film. (Sorry Dad, your secret's out of the bag.)  It’s not that he’s a purist; it’s that for him it works. He likes getting prints, and going through them, he likes the camera he has and doesn't see the need to change.
Another problem with film? Not knowing if these rolls are blank or empty!
Dad also likes thinking about the shot he’s setting up, and not just snapping away in the “hopes” he gets something. In fact it’s almost a prerequisite for film. You have a limited number (Usually 24-36) of shots per roll, and so every shot matters. Plus you are stuck with whatever ISO you chose for the entire roll!  So you actually have to think about what type of images and shooting you would be doing when you purchase the film!

For those of you who haven’t experienced shooting with film, but instead rely on the instant gratification and seemingly unlimited images on your camera phone, this may be a hard concept to grasp. For those of us who haven’t shot with film for years, it’s something that we may have forgotten. I know I love being able to look at the images I take instantly, and definitely take more than I ever did during the days of film.

I am a huge fan of digital cameras, and believe they have made me a better photographer. I still think about composing my shots, but I also shoot more frequently. I don’t think I’d take half as many food, flower, or leaf photos if I were capturing them with film. (Something I now find therapeutic.) I am always searching for the perfect light, and will wait patiently until the conditions are right before capturing my images, but I also like the fact I can take a couple of quick shots of a group and digitally swap a head or two when needed. Or I can look down and capture a pretty heart shaped leaf because it caught my eye.
Hearts in Nature are always fun.
Although I now capture my images in digital format, I still insist on prints. I know it would be so much easier to just burn the images to a CD, but the RAW files I capture still need to be converted into .jpgs and processed for prints. (Color correction, blemish removal, skin softening, cropping, etc. ) I've found that while digital image galleries are fun, it’s easy to just quickly look at the image and move on. But when you put a print in someone’s hands, time slows down. They take longer to look at the details, to feel the texture of the paper, and to savor the captured moment. Albums, canvas prints, and folio boxes all create a similar effect, we use more of our senses with prints, and I think it just feels more balanced.

Even the pictures my Dad sends me are treated differently than the ones that show up in the inbox of my computer. They arrive by snail-mail with tons of stamps parading across the padded envelope announcing something fun is inside. I immediately make a cup of coffee and then sit down at the table to enjoy them; turning them over to read the notes inscribed on the back, and savoring my Dad's view of the world one image at a time. It becomes an event of its own, and for a little while, time slows down just ever so slightly.

Unfortunately for Dad, he's struggling to find places that still print film. This means he either has to send the film out, or move on into the digital world.  If he does make the leap to a digital camera, I’m hoping that like me, he’ll not go completely digital, but will still get his images printed.  And that I will still receive an occasional package of prints every now and then, so I have an excuse to step away from my computer, make another cup of coffee, and savor the moments one frame at a time.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Adventures in Paleo Photography

Last year I was on a pretty good roll with a low-carb health plan. I loved how much energy I seemed to have, and didn't realize how much I missed red meat until I started eating it agian!  
Of course my plan took a back-burner over the holidays, and was replaced by yummy Haagen-Dazs eggnog martini's and breads, pies, and cheeses.
Soy milk eggnog martini with sugar-in-the-raw rim.
The down side to low-carb was I missed Pasta, and I LOVE to bake, but my pans and bowls sat empty for a good portion of the year.
This year I stumbled across Paleo cooking, it's similar but I can have breads and treats made with almond flours, etc! They even "okay" Coconut milk in recipes and soups. Yeah!
Making almond milk in a blender, easy peasy!
Yesterday, I made Almond Milk. Yum!  I was frustrated with all of the fillers in the ones at the grocery store, and was quite pleased with how relatively easy it turned out.
(I even dried out the almond husks to use later for "breading" chicken or fish!)  
Drying Almond bits for future meals.
Tim was on board at the mention of slow-cooker Kalua Pork. (Which we made this weekend!)  After 16-hours of Crock Pot goodness the pork looked like this!
(Warning, you may wake up hungry at 4:00 am because the house smells so AMAZING!)

Tim wears gloves to shred the pork by hand because the meat is still hot.
We didn't have the proper red Hawaiian Alaea Salt for the pork, and I used Grey Sea Salt and Pink Himalayan Salt instead.  The pork tasted more like carnitas and had me craving avocados.  It was moist and delicious and had a hint of smoke.  But it was missing something to make it true Kalua Pork so we're going to try again, as soon as the new red salt arrives.
Cookbook fun!  So far I've made recipes from the bottom two books, the top one is for special occasions only! 
The three books I purchased for my culinary adventure are above in case you want to join in on the fun!
As many of you know, I tend to never follow a recipe exactly, however on the paleo ones I mention above (with the exception of the salt) I did.
As I vary the recipes more I'll be sure to share my favorites.
What is your favorite thing to make?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Word of the Year in 2014 ~ Focus on Photography

I am so happy 2014 is here.   Not that 2013 didn't have some highlights but I’m ready for a fresh start and a blank canvas to mold this year into something even better.

Many people I know pick out a word of the year to strive for.  I thought about choosing “Growth”, but then realized it might be too vague, and it could be misinterpreted into growth to my waistline, vs growth of my business and personal life. I had many other choices as well, some things I'm already pretty good at, and others I tend to overlook at times or would just like to improve on.

My prior year's word was "Dream", where dream equals ambition, to follow my dream and my heart.  This actually worked amazingly well, and the focus on business and my dream of a studio was great for my career, but not so great for my personal life.  Towards the end of last year my garden suffered because I didn't have the time to give it the attention it needed. Worse yet, I stopped taking pictures for fun, and most of my images were client driven. (With the exception of my iPhone images and Instagram account.)  I went from taking a personal picture a day with my camera, to picking it up for fun about once a quarter!

Most of the people I know who don’t live in the Bay Area have a much better balance between home and work.  It’s my goal to strive for this as well, and thus my word for 2014 is “Balance”. My hopes is by finding a balance, I may actually take a real vacation this year!  We have a couple of milestone birthday’s this fall, and so perhaps I should start planning for them now.  (Especially since fall can be busy with sessions.)

I still plan on putting in 110% at Suzi Worley Photography, and have some fun things in the works, but I plan to officially checkout on occasion as well, and not work all of the time, but instead re-group to focus on family.  I hope to streamline my time on this blog, Facebook, and Social Media, and start delegating projects too! (Delegate could have been a great word as well, as I tend to try and do it all, and fear this is part of the reason why some areas of my life have suffered from neglect.)  

I think the focus on balance will not only help me become an even better photographer, but a better person as well.  I love what I do, and am so excited about the new happenings at Studio 235, I can’t wait to see what we come up with this year for sessions, etc.  But I’m also looking forward to some much needed friends and family time as well.

Do you choose a word of the year?  If so what is it?  I'd love to start this journey with as many people as possible, and perhaps check in every now and then to see if you're still on track.  Let me know if you're in via the comments below and have a great 2014!